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Why I hate December #3 – setting up Christmas decorations

Why I hate December #3 – setting up Christmas decorations

Amongst all the time-sucking hassles that December brings along is the need/desire to set up Christmas decorations.

Admittedly, only those with a true heart of rock-solid stone could fail to be impressed by blinking fairy lights and tinsel chasing away the dark December nights, but oy vey, the hassle of setting it all up.

First of all you have to get all the decorations, tinsel, lights and then the huge plastic tree from last year down from the attic or your storage arena. Or struggle to wrestle a new natural tree all the way home from the local dodgy pop-up market around the corner, covering yourself with thistles and thorns in the process.

Then you have to carve out a space in your living room area near the window just to put up the tree. Assuming you had any spare space to begin with. For bonus points, if you have a crawling baby, you have to put enough obstacles on the living room floor so that he can’t actually try to climb up – or more likely, eat – the tree.

Then out come the fairy lights out of the box. Which are all hopelessly tangled, so you have to spend a good 30 minutes untangling them to begin with – while also keeping an eye out on the baby to ensure he doesn’t try to chew the fairy lights. Once you’ve untangled them comes the joyful task of tangling them again around the tree. Before realising that it’s all too far from an electrical outlet so you’re forced to decide whether to move everything else out of the way so you can put the tree near the electrical outlet, or try dangling an extension cable in such a way that the baby won’t eat it.

Then you open the box of last year’s tree decorations, and hope to goodness none of them have been smashed. Then you realise you can’t use any of them anyway because the baby may just decide to try eating a glass globe.

Which is why, this year, my wife’s taken the initative and set up a unique Christmas ‘tree’ of our very own, incorporating books and a fez. Because fezzes are cool.

Our Christmas tree, 2011

I still wish I had the time to set up some more fairy lights around the place, though.

Merry Christmas from the Wongs, WeaponX – and the cats.

Merry Christmas from the Wongs, WeaponX – and the cats.

And we don’t have any cats.

My Chinese Christmas dinner

My Chinese Christmas dinner




Chinese Christmas dinner

Originally uploaded by almost witty

While you all prepare to tuck into your cliched turkey & cranberry Christmas dinner and bemoan that it’s the same meal every year, bear in mind that I wish, that just for one tiny year, that I could have a turkey & cranberry dinner with all the trimmings. Especially roast potatoes!

Not because it’s particularly tasty – any meat that dry should belong in the Sahara, surely? – but because when my parents do Christmas dinner, it’s … rather different. Fantastically tasty, and as with all home-cooked food it’s heartwarming and fantastic, but for once, I’d like to try a turkey’n’cranberry dinner that wasn’t mass-cooked in a canteen or microwaved in a local pub.

They’ll probably cook the same sort of thing this year, but I really must ask how they produce all that food…

Giving my right hand some exercise…

Giving my right hand some exercise…

Yes, it’s that one time of year when I let my right hand do more than just push buttons all day, and actually make it WRITE things. Y’know, on pen and paper.

So if you want a Christmas card from these very fair hands, please feel free to send me your address and I shall dispatch one forthwith.

[Americans, your Christmas cards are already in America. 😉 ]

Christmas in August?

Christmas in August?

The sun may be shining – or more likely, there’s stormy summer clouds overheard. Either way, it’s hot, sticky, and sweaty.

Hey, why not think about what you’re doing for Christmas ?

and if you think I’m joking, please note the following:

  1. I was walking through Soho the other day (in the pouring rain) and two ladies dressed in scantily-clad Christmas outfits were handing out flyers which invited people to book their Christmas party at a specific pub
  2. The house at the end of the road has decided to put on their Christmas lights on the outside…
  3. Selfridges, one of London’s top department stores, has started offering their range of festive goods

Bah. They could have at least waited till September!

Can you hear the people sing?

Can you hear the people sing?

As I speak, there is the glorious sound of a gospel choir working their way through a bunch of classic hymns and not-so-classic modern pop tunes.

This would be great, if it was not Friday at 4pm, they were on the ground floor of the building I work in and only the bottom two floors (those belonging to BBC Worldwide) are enjoying the party, complete with mince pies, wine, DJ and glitterball. In the meantime, the wage slaves up above have to – in theory – keep working.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t arrived back at the BBC just when the Christmas party limit was slashed, so my “departmental” Christmas party last week was at a bar, and consisted of some free drink – and far too late – some very unChristmassy canapes. Although I’m lucky I got to go to one at all, I suppose…

Then again, my first BBC Worldwide Christmas party was quite an eye-opener. I’d only been working for a week, and got shepherded to the party at Heaven, which included girls dancing in cages, and ice sculptures where you could drink vodka from an ice woman’s breast. This was 1997, mind you…

Dear BBC, why have you cancelled my Christmas?

Dear BBC, why have you cancelled my Christmas?

Ever since I was a wee nipper, Christmas Day always started at 2pm (our family were always late risers…) when Top of The Pops was on BBC One, Christmas Day. We’d emerge from our respective bedrooms, and open our presents to the latest bangin’ tunes of 1987, with occasional home camera footage. Which is quite scary twenty years on.

Fortunately, while we’ve ditched the self-filming thing, opening our presents to the tune of Top of The Pops is something we still do now on the odd times we do get together at Christmas – much to the bemusement of the strangers from the outside.

And now the BBC have cancelled Christmas Top Of The Pops. Bah, harumph and all that. We’ve cancelled Christmas in protest.

Christmas card etiquette

Christmas card etiquette

Quick question, Internet users out there:

Should you give Christmas cards to people you see all the time? Or just wish them a merry Christmas?

Is it better to be frugal when it comes to giving out Christmas cards (issued on paper after all) or to be excessive?

Where's the Fairytale of New York?

Where's the Fairytale of New York?

Update: Heard it on 6 December. Hurrah. Christmas can now officially start!

Despite having spent the last three days trotting around all the shopping centres that Manchester and Cheshire have to offer – in the hunt for a new pair of spectacles actually! – and spending countless hours on shopping websites, I still don’t quite feel that Christmassy.

It’s partly because I’m still a bit ill so instead of rich mince pies I’m mostly craving plain jacket potatoes – and half-dreading the 12-hour drink fest that is the annual works Christmas party this weekend with special mystery guest star.

But it’s mostly because despite all the driving around and listening to the radio at work all day, I still haven’t yet heard The Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. The definitive bitter-sweet Christmas tune, and one that never fails to give me Christmassy memories, such as snow falling on an American car park. Ahhh, snow, where have you gone?

Has it been taken off mainstream UK radio? Has it now been deemed too unChristmassy? Is there a mass conspiracy behind its’ disappearance off UK Radio? Or is it just me?

Just be thankful…

Just be thankful…

Today, as 260 million people (mostly Americans) sit down with their families eating turkey in the full knowledge they’ll probably have to do it again in a months time for Christmas, I’m thankful I’m not one of them!

The whole hullabaloo over Christmas is bad enough, without having the dress rehersal that is Thanksgiving as well. Or have I got it completely confused and wrong ?!